CNN's Paula Zahn Connects Immigration Debate to Recruitment Increase in the KKK

As previously reported on Newsbusters, the mainstream media overlooks fringe groups at anti-war rallies, pro-illegal immigrant rallies, or even extreme anti-American hatred at anti-Bush rallies overseas. However, when it comes to opposition against illegal immigration, the mainstream media tries to connect it to fringe hate groups where ever they can find it.

On Tuesday’s Paula Zahn Now, host Paula Zahn described the "frightening new trend" that the very small Ku Klux Klan has increased recruitment. This increased recruitment is largely, of course, to blame from alleged immigrant baiting from some Republicans. Zahn was giving free, unquestioning publicity to a new report from the Anti-Defamation League. Reporter Deborah Feyerick asserted that the increase in recruitment is "which some believe is the result of the heated debate on immigration, which at times uses hateful language."

In a comical interview with a Klan "imperial wizard" Ray Larsen, Feyerick reported that he ran out of membership applications at a recent rally. "I only took 100 of them to Russellville,"said Larsen who seemed surprise there are more than 100 people with Klan sympathies out of over 300 million Americans. Finally, she asked, "by making illegal immigration your issue, is this to ensure the survival of the KKK?"

The entire transcript is below.

ZAHN: "We are bringing a frightening new trend out in the open tonight. Today the Anti-Defamation League released a brand new report that shows that the Ku Klux Klan is on the rebound and recruiting new members at an alarming rate. So what's their new strategy? Here's Deborah Feyerick."

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: "They're going to make y'all number two if you don't get them out of here."

DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): "It's the newest marketing tool for hate groups, illegal immigration, a topic so divisive the KKK has been signing new members, some say, at a rate not seen since the 1960s. Ray Larson is imperial wizard of the Ku Klux Klan in Indiana. Did a light bulb go off in your head that said, this is our new issue?"

RAY LARSEN, IMPERIAL WIZARD, Ku Klux Klan: "Absolutely. Illegal immigrants is bringing us far more members than we did when we were just totally against any ethnic group."

FEYERICK: "Larsen, a retired rail worker, says he joined the Klan in 1960 at the urging of his wife. Forty six years later he's strongly committed to the KKK's future. So illegal immigrants will become a bigger part of the message than, let's say, trying to attract people by hating blacks."

LARSEN: "That's correct."

FEYERICK: "Or by hating gays?"

LARSEN: "Right."

FEYERICK: "Or by hating Jews, for that matter."

LARSEN: "Right."

FEYERICK: "OK. All right, so you found a winning strategy?"

LARSEN: "Yes, ma'am."

FEYERICK: "A strategy that included staging this rally in Russellville, Alabama, just 24 hours after last year's national day without immigrants when racial tension in some communities ran especially high, so high, Larsen says he ran out of membership applications."

LARSEN: "I only took 100 of them to Russellville. I never dreamed that thing was going to be that big."

FEYERICK: "There's no way to verify how many rally attendees actually became Klan members. But the response supports what the Anti-Defamation League called surprising and troubling findings in its new report about the KKK. In it, the ADL warns of a, quote, 'noticeable spike in activity by Klan chapters across the country, many of them exploiting illegal immigration.' As a reformed member of the Aryan Nation, Floyd Cochran knows firsthand what fuels hate groups like the KKK. He tracks them on his website, eyeonhate.com."

FLOYD COCHRAN,WWW.EYEONHATE.COM: "A good percentage of the people who are joining hate groups today are under the age of 25. More often than not, they're young white males, which is a segment of society that more often than not feels like they are left out. Politicians don't come and talk to young white males."

FEYERICK: "The Southern Poverty Law Center which tracks hate crimes found that between 2000 and 2005, Klan chapters grew by 63 percent, a spike which some believe is the result of the heated debate on immigration, which at times uses hateful language."

CESAR PARALES, PUERTO RICAN LEGAL DEF. FUND: "When you start using terms, when you start saying, this is an invasion, these are cockroaches coming into our land, you're using obviously racist language. You're trying to make people hate others and that is your real intent."

FEYERICK: "That's Larsen's plan."

LARSEN: "I'm going to be very emotional right from the get-go, yes."

FEYERICK: "Entice new members who hate illegal immigrants, then brainwash them to hate others like blacks, Jews and gays once they're hooked. By making illegal immigration your issue, is this to ensure the survival of the KKK?"

LARSEN: "To ensure it, no. To assist us, yes."

FEYERICK: "An effective marketing tool that taps into a dangerous mindset. Deborah Feyerick, CNN, South Bend, Indiana."